they’re at the outskirts
that smudged edge of our village
life tethered to a shanty
of flies, filth and folksong
lives and huts near collapse
for generations, they bloom
beside the lotus pond

my father doesn’t see them
his eyes no longer register
their shapes, their bodies
he steps around them
sometimes over them
maybe once on them?
he doesn’t notice the lack, the want
for food shelter clothing everything

my mother sees them when she needs
the courtyard swept
the cow dung gathered
the garden tended to
she gives them a glass of water
places it on the ground at her feet
and steps back
tells them to leave it on the shelf outside
so she doesn’t have to touch
something that has touched them

easier to avoid caste contamination
to erase their presence
to unsee what we don’t want to see


Author’s Bio

Moni Brar is an uninvited settler on unsurrendered territories of the Treaty 7 region and the Syilx Nation. She is a Punjabi Sikh Canadian writer exploring diasporan guilt, identity, and intergenerational trauma. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in PRISM, Prairie Fire, Hart House Review, Existere, untethered, and various anthologies.